When the Tigers Broke Free

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"Pink Floyd The Wall - Music From The Film"
Single by Pink Floyd
A-side "When The Tigers Broke Free"
B-side "Bring the Boys Back Home"
Released 26 July 1982
Recorded November 1981 - March 1982
Genre Progressive rock
Length 3:17
Label Harvest Records (UK)
Columbia Records (US)
Writer(s) Roger Waters
Producer(s) Roger Waters, James Guthrie and Michael Kamen
Pink Floyd singles chronology
"Comfortably Numb"
"Pink Floyd - The Wall - Music From The Film"
"Not Now John"

"When the Tigers Broke Free" is a Pink Floyd song by Roger Waters,[1][2] describing the death of his father, Eric Fletcher Waters, during the Second World War's Operation Shingle.[3]

Writing and recording[edit]

The song was written at the same time as The Wall, hence its copyright date of 1979, and was originally intended to be part of that album, but was rejected by the other members of the band on the grounds that it was too personal.[4] It was subsequently recorded and included in the movie version of The Wall and first released as a separate track on a 7" single on 26 July 1982 (running 2:55), before appearing in The Wall film. The 7" was labelled "Taken from the album The Final Cut" but was not included on that album until the 2004 CD reissue.


The song sets up the story premise for The Wall movie, set over footage recreating the British contribution to the Anzio campaign's Operation Shingle, where Allied forces landed on the beaches near Anzio, Italy, with the goal of liberating Rome from German control. These forces included Z Company of the Royal Fusiliers, in which Waters' father Eric served.[5] As Waters tells it, the forward commander had asked to withdraw his forces from a German Tiger tank assault, but the generals refused, and "the Anzio bridgehead was held for the price / Of a few hundred ordinary lives" as the Tigers eventually broke through the British defence, killing all of Company Z, including Eric Waters.

In the second verse of the song (which makes up the reprise later in The Wall film), Waters describes how he found a letter of condolence from the British government, described as a note from King George in the form of a gold leaf scroll which "His Majesty signed / In his own rubber stamp." Waters' resentment then explodes in the final line "And that's how the High Command took my Daddy from me".

The underlying theme of the song is one of the primary catalysts for the character Pink's descent into isolation throughout the story of The Wall, especially in the film version.[6]

On 18 February 2014, precisely 70 years after his father was killed at Anzio, Waters unveiled a memorial [7] to Z Company near to the site of the battle. Another monument had already been erected at the approximate spot where his father fell. After many years of not knowing the details of what happened on that fateful day, Waters was finally able to get some closure after 93 year-old Fusilier and Anzio veteran Harry Schindler uncovered precise details of the time and place of Waters' father's death. Both of them were present at the unveiling of the memorial.

Subsequent releases[edit]

The song made its first CD appearance on a promotional disc in conjunction with Roger Waters' 1990 live performance of The Wall at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. This was the original Pink Floyd recording from The Wall movie, and had a running time of 3 minutes.

It was generally released on CD on Pink Floyd's 2001 compilation album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.[8] With a duration of 3:42, this version is longer than the single release and features an extended intro section. There is less percussion heard in the Echoes mix, but the male choir comes in much earlier than it does in the single version.

The next time the song appeared was on the 2004 re-released, remastered version of The Final Cut, where it was placed between "One of the Few" and "The Hero's Return", this time an edited version of 3:16. This mix is similar to that of the Echoes version, but with a shorter intro.

Film version[edit]

The first verse is at the opening of the film, where Pink's father is cleaning and loading a revolver while smoking a cigarette and hearing bombs or bombers fly overhead. It then goes into the song "In the Flesh?", showing his fate. The second verse (after "Another Brick in the Wall Part 1") shows Pink finding his father's uniform, the letter of condolence, straight razor, and bullets. He then puts on the uniform, where it cuts between his father doing the same.


Chart (1982) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 39
Canada Singles Chart 44[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1177. ISBN 1-84195-551-5. 
  2. ^ Mabbett, Andy (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of Pink Floyd. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-4301-X. 
  3. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. pp. 13–14, 291. ISBN 978-0-306-81752-6. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Roger Waters". Wolfgang's Vault. 22 October 1984. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Edward D. Paule. "A History of the Royal Fusiliers Company =C". Retrieved 26 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Wall Analysis". Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Waters Memorial". Retrieved 19 Feb 2014. 
  8. ^ "Echoes: the album credits". Pink Floyd. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Pink Floyd: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart.
  10. ^ Library and Archives Canada: Top Singles – Volume 37, No. 7, October 02 1982, October 2, 1982, retrieved July 16, 2014 

External links[edit]